This weekend we revisited Universal Orlando Resort to get another amazing taste of Mardi Gras 2021 International Flavors of Carnaval! I was anxious to see how Universal was handling their first festival post COVID and I was certainly not disappointed. Although there was not the usual Mardi Gras parade, the beautifully decorated floats were scattered about Universal Studios complete with lots of bead tossing!
As soon as you enter Universal Studios Florida you are greeted with the sights, sounds, and smells of Mardi Gras… music, vividly glittering floats, wildly friendly characters, and the scents of amazing cuisine at every turn. I loved how the food and drink booths were spread out through the entire park as well as the featured floats. It made it very easy, even with the weekend crowds to navigate throughout everything safely. We opted to purchase the Mardi Gras Tasting Lanyard. It is $55 for 10 tastings for regular guests, and for Annual Passholders, $65 for 15 tastings. We opted for the AP Lanyard and utilized our tastings for both dishes and drinks throughout the park as opposed to a traditional lunch. With each tasting costing roughly $5 and above, the Tasting Lanyard made total sense cost-wise and not to mention the fact that we were able to try so many amazing things!
The booths near the entrance to Studios were mainly New Orleans-themed dishes and drinks. From etouffee, Jambalaya, crawfish boil, Bourbon Street coffee, to beignets, no stone was left unturned when representing NOLA! As we ventured further into the park, more and more international cuisine and drinks were to be found! Some of our favorites were the Jerk chicken from the Bahamas, the charcuterie plate from Spain, and the pollo arepas from Columbia.
Another amazing touch to Universal’s specialty events like Mardi Gras is their over-the-top themed Tribute Store! Each room has a different theme related to the event with specialty merchandise and a few surprising treats at the end. The three themed rooms were as follows: a small French Quarter Jazz Parlor, Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, and a creepy Bayou. I am so excited that Universal has decided to take this Tribute Store’s success and extend it into events in addition to Halloween Horror Nights. Another feature that was adapted to the Mardi Gras theme was the scavenger hunt, names appropriately, the Krewe Crawl. This is a walking tour throughout Studios to specific spots that have displays highlighting the creepy legacy and rich history of Mardi Gras. If you complete this scavenger hunt and collect a stamp on your map at each stop, you receive a special set of beads with a mask attached!
I think the most impressive part of this festival is the fact that it is so family-friendly. There is absolutely something for everyone! The small plates are great for adventurous eaters, drinks for mom and dad, live music, crazy characters, and even some of your favorite characters in their Mardi Gras best! This fun and carefree celebration was the perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon or any afternoon for that matter. While Mardi Gras ends this year on April 11th, I anticipate its return next season as do I anticipate our return to enjoy it!